The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

Alan Grant is a policeman who's enduring enforced convalescence following an injury. Bored, he looks for things to occupy his mind, and his attention is drawn to the story of Richard III and the murder of the princes in the tower.

This book had been recommended in various places, with some people saying it's the best detective story they'd ever read, so it had been on my list for some time. The cover has a portrait of Richard III, and I think I'd assumed that it was an historical novel that would be set in or around the 15th Century, so I was a bit surprised to find myself reading about a police inspector in the 1950's(?).

One thing that was striking was that one of the main reasons Grant is drawn to Richard's story is because he has a book with Richard's portrait, and he studies that and, based on his experience of criminals, comes to the conclusion that the person with that face could not be guilty of the acts which which history has associated him. And in these passages, you find yourself turning back to the book's cover, which has a portrait of Richard, and sympathising with Grant's observations. Maybe not a very reliable way of establishing the truth of a criminal case, but the writing was quite persuasive.

As Grant digs more into the history, he (and we) become more convinced that Richard was innocent, and the book makes (to me) a pretty strong case for this. I don't know how much Tey bends the truth or is selective with the facts, but it made for a pretty good read.

Not sure I'd say it was the best detective book I've read, but it was pretty interesting.

One thing I noted was the mention of Morton's fork - Morton was around in the 15th Century so I think that they came across some of his writings and mentioned this, but it's still an expression in common usage and I'd not heard of it before.

Completed : 26-May-2014

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